SANParks assists the poor during lockdown

MINISTER of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy and SANParks officials recently donated food parcels and water tanks to vulnerable communities bordering the Kruger National Park (KNP) in Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

“Because of the national Covid-19 lockdown, tourism, which is the main source of income for these communities, had dried up. This had affected the well-being of the families reliant on tourism for an income. That is why we decided to try and make their lives a little easier in these trying times,” Creecy said.

Most national parks, if not all, are situated in rural areas affected by poverty, unemployment and a range of socio- economic problems. These communities rely on the national parks for their survival, either through jobs or business opportunities. “This period requires all of us to join hands to assist the most vulnerable members of society in our country,” Greecy told the media.

Funding for the initiative, which is being extended to communities bordering national parks countrywide, had been sourced from the South African National Parks (SANParks) Honorary Rangers and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A total of R6 million would be used to purchase food parcels, hygiene products, educational materials and water tanks. As many as 500 families would receive assitance nationally.

The minister, supported by SANParks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni and senior SANParks officials, handed out the much-needed support parcels to members of the Mdluli and MhauleTraditional Authorities, as well as the Mnisi Traditional Authority and Amashangana Tribal Authority in Mpumalanga. The Gidjani and Bevhula Traditional Authorities in Limpopo also received support.

The 1 500 parcels included  soap, cleaning detergents, masks and groceries. The 80 water tanks had been installed in the most water-stressed villages within these traditional authorities.

“We will ensure that these donations benefit families who have been identified as vulnerable during this unprecedented time,” the deputy minister said. “We are aware that children, unemployed women and old people live with small children as heads of families. It’s important that as we hand over these much-needed food parcels, we ensure that help is provided where it is needed most,” Creecy said.

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